The playing fields are silent

Douglas Fritz • Updated Mar 17, 2020 at 6:51 PM

After a crazy day of chasing Northeast Tennessee teams from one end of Murfreesboro to the other during the annual Spring Fling, Jeff Birchfield and I would often meet for a post-deadline dinner and sometimes talk about an empty couple of weeks that were ahead on the local sports scene.

We would have to shake the trees, beat the bushes, and find an interesting story to share with our readers. It was a welcome break and a needed challenge after almost 10 months of high school things going on here, there and everywhere.

And then the playing fields went silent.

Too soon.

It wasn’t the end of May, when things were supposed to change. It was the middle of March, when things were supposed to begin.

Suddenly that conversation between Jeff and me looked quite different. A few weeks of no high school sports wasn’t a big deal then, but it sure seems different now.

As the entire sports world came to a screeching halt recently, Tennessee spring sports joined the sudden stop. Teams had only dipped their toes in the water that was the 2020 season, waiting for the chill to pass and anticipating the head-first dive into daily competition and tournament battles.

The aluminum pings that resonated like a concerto across the fields of dreams were silenced. Also muted were the crisp thudding pops of fastballs striking dead center of dusty mitts, the impacted thumps of soccer balls destined for the twitch of the net, the rhythmic beat of feet striking the submissive synthetic rubber, and the pleasant thwack of a racket’s sweet spot against a spongy sphere.

Also gone is the unmistakably impressive explosion of cheers from a hearty group of spring sports fans — louder than their numbers — as the well-struck ball raced unimpeded toward the left-center field gap with the bases loaded. Moments such as those are missed the most at this time.

Ever since the first baseball state championship in 1947 — won by Science Hill, by the way — spring sports have rolled on, uninterrupted. It’s hard to imagine even the possibility there may not be champions this year. There won’t be in college sports.

At the very least, the regular season will not properly reflect its cousins from years gone by. The good news is the regular season doesn’t hold sway over the postseason. Everybody gets a fresh start.

For some, this was the season that was going to stand out. It would produce the great memory Johnny or Susie would tell their grandkids about one day.

But remember all of those things could still happen. The curse of this major life change is not knowing what may happen next. The blessing is also not knowing, and that things could turn around sooner than some expect.

Without a doubt, hope is always better than despair.

So while the clock ticks more slowly, make good use of the time. Be innovative. Focus on making today count.

It’s spring and the birds are out. Each time you see or hear one, don’t think about what is lost. Instead, remember you are more valuable than many of them.